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Saturday 10 March 2007

Britain's Tories love open source (true)

George Osborne speaking in 2006The Register
Britain's Tories love open source (true)
All aboard the Osbornesource bandwagon!
By Mark Ballard
Published Friday 9th March 2007
George Osborne, Britain's shadow chancellor of the exchequer, has stuck the Conservative Party's banner firmly on the internet bandwagon.
Speaking at the Royal Society of Arts yesterday, he applauded the "democratisation of information" brought about by the internet.

... just trying to find a copy of the speech on the web ... la de dah ..

owh Looking at bit "Father Ted' in this pic (right), George. Yelling at me from the centre of the page is:
From my website you can use the links on the right of this page to visit the Conservative Party website and the Parliamentary website for access to records of debates in the House of Commons.
not sending me to theyworkforyou for your parliamentary record, eh George?

More Register
"We need to harness the internet to help us become more accountable, more transparent and more accessible - and so bridge the growing gap between government and governed," he said.
However, one Open Source guru who is advising Osborne told The Register that he couldn't speak to us on the record for fear of losing his new-found links to power. It was too great an opportunity for the Open Source movement to pass up, he said.
on to ...

and we find what he's really after (it's the lead story) ...
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has promised that an incoming Conservative government would create a level playing field for open source software in the UK, in a move which could save taxpayers more than £600 million a year.
'Democracy' doesn't get a mention. Oh, and ever heard the phrase 'total cost of ownership' George?

Here's the whole speech. (it's also published in the telegraph)

"we need to rethink the way public services work" "MySpace" (owh, he's Maaates with them too). "How many people here are friends with Tom Anderson? [MySpace founder, right, on the cover of Fortune]" — George, take a ticket: 'Tom has 161875396 friends' — "Howard Dean" "I do look forward to seeing WebGordon." "Wikipedia"

he does big-up Wikinomics, and mentions:
The Patient Opinion website, a social enterprise set up by a Sheffield GP, is already demonstrating what can be achieved.

Patients are using the website to post accounts of their experiences of the NHS - both positive and negative.

These are then forwarded to the relevant hospital or clinic, which can respond, triggering "microconversations" about the quality of care and service that often result in changes being made.

The effect is to create a real-time exchange of qualitative data on public experience, from seemingly trivial issues like the lack of clear signs to bigger issues, like poor quality outpatient care.
but he doesn't follow-through with this. He's straight back to savings.

Imagine, George, a comments? field on every government website page.




*Have a look at this - 14 November 2006, 'Politics and Media In An Internet Age' - using exactly the same words, he's off passionately declaring his luv for Tom Anderson:
"I went all the way to Los Angeles last year to meet him"

"He's 30 years old. His interests are music, movies and – bizarrely – the history of Communism. His favourite bands include Superdrag and the Sex Pistols, and Lawrence of Arabia is one of top films."
It must be love - and all thanks to the Internet!

I can relate, George. In a meeting to discuss Litter only the other day you should have heard the rustling of pens when I mentioned MySpace. Practically everyone made a note.

Only trouble is, George, that in constantly bigging up MySpace you're ignoring it's very sucessful UK Competitor, Bebo.

Bebo overtakes MySpace in the UK

Now I can kindof understand why founder Michael Birch (pictured right) may not be as ... er, glamorous as Mr Anderson but y'know.. quick makeover... and he's British, George.

But could Michael's self-proclaimed tastes provide a clue to George's disinterest?
Lilly Allen, Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Beatles
Napoleon Dynamite, Run Lola Run, Sexy Beast
English International Soccer
Guinness, Old Peculiar, London Pride
Far too butch?

So. The problem with speeches like this from politicians like Osbourne? Too fan-like. Get a grip. Be honest about your bewilderment.

Big up the right things (how about going to see crusty and balding Jacob Nielsen, George? Although his Favourite Film doesn't appear to interest anyone, he has commented on Usability in the Movies).

What he chooses to mention reflects the information he's getting, as well as where he's sourcing it. But this alongside the mis-reading (i.e. ignoring Bebo) — which seems to be a consistent theme coming out from very senior people (Varney thinks Amazon is bigger than eBay in the UK) making very important decisions getting god knows what advice — is more than annoying.

Choosing one buzz over another buzz [Nielsen: Hyped Web Stories Are Irrelevant] often reflects a mis-reading of web developments (Amazon has a different business model to eBay, Amazon perhaps being closer to the traditional retail model, hence maybe more comprehensible).

Simply because of the pace by which those decisions filter through the bureaucracy, we end up failing to follow through with new developments (ironically, the sorts of ones politicians seem to love).

This leads to things like what we're doing now - focussing on Portals rather than Search, directing people somewhere using outmoded methods rather than capturing them where they are or *something a bit more sophisticated!

Things like the Sheffield Patient Opinion site use simple, very basic, very usable (*crucial), resources and from a low-base hopefully become ubiquitous. They grow organically out of the web, they're not imposed on it.

Lots of small, cheap projects like this, freed of bureaucratic restraint but with very clear basis such as governance and standards would do wonders and would likely generate some really big new ideas.

Here's PatientOpinion's
What is this about?

Patient Opinion is all about enabling patients to share their experiences of health care, and by doing so help other patients — and perhaps even change the NHS.

As well as allowing everyone to see what patients are saying about their services, it also offers a way to feed the experience of patients back to the NHS so that their insights and ideas can be put to good use.
Wikinomics, indeed. Although I am heartily sick of "enabling".

We can dream. This sort of thing has been promised for years (and lots of innovation lingers unloved in repositories) but it always seems to boil down to a search for savings rather than a search for innovation.

What 'they' don't seem to have grasped is what people like real entrepreneurs have, which is that out of the innovation you get great benefits, including 'savings' (which are really better allocated resources). Rather than the other way around.

'Let 1million flowers bloom' (or some-such) would have been a better message, George.

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